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Addiction Treatment

3/27/13 3:07pm

Former Fix Editor Investigates Addiction Science

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Dirk Hanson Photo via

Addiction Inbox: Cutting-Edge Research on Drugs and Dependence is the latest book by former Fix editor Dirk Hanson, who originally ran this very news blog and has contributed frequently to the site. Based on his own Addiction Inbox blog, the book tackles the science behind addiction and recovery and explores important new developments in the field—such as shoplifting being treated as an addiction and new synthetic drugs like bath salts and spice. One standout recent development, Hanson tells The Fix, is the growing union between the medical community and the recovery movement, so that "doctors can be more proactive treating alcoholics and addicts." He sees Buprenorphine and other anti-craving medications as an important part of this. "It used to be you couldn't go to Hazelden on Zoloft," notes Hanson; now Hazleden accepts patients who have been prescribed Buprenorphine maintenance. This "opened the floodgate," says Hanson, who believes it's a good thing that approaches to treatment are being "rewired" in this way: "It’s time for the treatment industry to straighten up and get with the program." 

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By Ben Feuerherd

Eating Disorders

3/27/13 2:22pm

What is Bigorexia?

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Dying to be big. Photo via

Muscle dysmorphia, or "bigorexia," is sometimes thought of as "reverse anorexia," since sufferers are preoccupied with enlarging—rather than shrinking—their bodies. Experts say the eating disorder, which tends to effect men more than women, poses a substantial threat—and it receives inadequate attention in the medical community, despite being widespread. Those with muscle dysmorphia may engage compulsively in muscle-building activities like weight-lifting, in addition to excessive use of steroids or food supplements, maintaining high-protein, low-fat diets, and extreme exercise, even when injured. Little is currently known about the disorder, but experts say it is common, and carries various health risks. "Muscle dysmorphia is an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of men and women, yet it is still a little-understood condition," says Dr. Gregory Jantz, an eating disorder specialist and founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Washington. "Results of this disorder can range from damaged muscles, joints and tendons to the effects of steroid use, depression and even suicide, highlighting the importance of shining a light on this issue." Family issues, perfectionism, stress, validation from peers, and portrayals of certain body types in mainstream media can all increase the risk. Because eating disorders are often pigeonholed as a problem affecting women, many men are reluctant to seek treatment; and doctors often misdiagnose or overlook the problem. But according to the National Eating Disorders Association, of the approximate 30 million people in the US with eating disorders, about 10 million of them are men.

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By Chrisanne Grise

coming out

3/27/13 1:08pm

Should I "Come Out" as an Alcoholic?

Reader's Question: I'm sober three months, and I can't decide if or how to tell people I'm an alcoholic, or to keep it a secret.

[Jane Velez-Mitchell is now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to janevelezmitchell@thefix.com.]

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By Jane Velez-Mitchell

sober rockers

3/27/13 11:59am

Aerosmith Drummer Raves About Rehab

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Rehab helped these guys play on. Photo via

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer is yet another of the band's former hard-partying members who now gets high purely off the music—and he has multiple stints in rehab to thank for it. Speaking at a Penn State lecture on Monday, Kramer talked about kicking drugs and alcohol in the mid-1980s, after becoming "disgusted" with himself. "When I decided to get sober, I had so had it with drugs and with alcohol," he said. Kramer checked into the Caron Foundation treatment center in Pennsylvania, where lead singer Steven Tyler also got clean, and he credits the staff with helping get back on his feet. Barbara Leinbach, his counselor at Caron, was also on hand for the talk. "You are a miracle," she said to him. "You grew so much." But although Kramer has stayed sober since leaving treatment, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the drummer, who went back to rehab for a nervous breakdown nine years later. "Every waking moment I was filled with dread like I was about to hear a fatal diagnosis," he wrote in his 2009 memoir, Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top, "I just wanted to get this feeling over with, but the despair, the emotional weight, and the anticipation of more of this misery had become misery itself." These days, the drummer acknowledges that "every day can be a struggle," particularly as he goes through his current divorce. He urges those struggling with addiction or mental health issues to ask for help, and surround themselves with people they trust.

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By McCarton Ackerman

addicted doctors

3/27/13 11:11am

More Health Care Workers Abusing Anesthetics

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Propofol is intended as a sedative...
for patients.

Abuse of anesthesia drug propofol is a rising problem among health care professionals, according to a new study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The anesthetic (also known as Diprivan) is used to sedate patients for surgery and other medical procedures. It is fast-acting and has few side effects, including a quick recovery time, making it more widely used than other anesthetics. But propofol is highly addictive; it was among the mix of drugs in singer Michael Jackson’s system at the time of his death in 2009. Based on data on substance abuse among health care workers, researchers found a steady increase in the number of professionals seeking treatment for propofol addiction between 1990 and 2010. Records showed 13 doctors, eight nurses, and one dentist had sought treatment for propofol, most of them anesthesia providers with easy access to the drug. About half began treatment after accidents, such as car crashes; some were injured after passing out from injecting themselves. Five were admitted to treatment after being discovered unconscious, the researchers noted. “Propofol addiction is a virulent and debilitating form of substance dependence with a rapid downhill course," write Dr. Paul Earley and Dr. Torin Finver of Georgia Health Professionals Program Inc. More women were found to abuse the drug than men, and many abusers showed a history of depression and childhood abuse. Researchers suggest that identifying childhood abuse, depression history and patterns of injury may be helpful in spotting and treating propofol abuse.

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

3/27/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: March 27, 2013

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Clinton is funky clean! Photo via

By Ben Feuerherd

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